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#Ageism in the #advertising industry: time to challenge age myths about creativity?

by on December 2, 2016

Thanks to my colleague Jamie Priestley for sending me a link to an article on Campaign magazine’s website about ageism in the advertising industry. We’ve blogged on the topic of the (still rather occasional and thus high profile) use of older models so it was interesting to read this thoughtful piece by Nicola Kemp entitled ‘Why ageism is adland’s next frontier’.

The focus is on the issue of age in the context of all those who work in this industry. The Institute of Practitioners in Advertising (IPA) is the trade body and professional institute for agencies in the UK’s media and marketing communications industry.Apparently, the average age of employees at all IPA member agencies is 33.7. This figure has not changed since 2009 – despite some major changes such as the abolition of mandatroy retirement and the increase in state pension age. As the article asks: “Where does everyone go?”

Campaign conducted an online readers survey about perceptions of ageism in marketing and advertising. 79% of respondents agree that the industry comes across as ageist. 32% said that they had experienced ageism against them in the workplace. 42% said they had seen ageism against others at work. 25% said they had been told they were ‘too old‘ when turned down for a job. And 40% said they had been told they ‘wouldn’t fit in‘ when turned down for a job.

The article discusses these percetions with those working in  the industry and in employment law.

Shilpen Savani, an employment law specialist at Gunnercooke, is quoted as saying: “Innovation is valued above experience and that has created an imbalance and a focus on change. There is a misconception that age and innovation are seen as mutually exclusive.”  There are reports about the difficulty of finding a new job in the industry once you are over 40 – the operation of an ‘invisible sell-by date‘ as one interviewee puts it.
It goes on to discuss whether these attitudes and practices will change as it becomes clearer that more people across all aspects of society will have to work for longer. This involves considering how ‘retirement’ in the 21st century is becoming a very different notion to that experienced by previous cohorts of workers. At this stage it’s difficult to say what this might mean for the creative industries where the received wisdom is often that creativity peaks at a relatively young age.  But it’s difficult to assess such a claim if no one works in a creative job in advertising past their 40s! Time to start pushing against the ageism and to bust some more age stereotypes.
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